Here's how to handle those awkward wedding conundrums (no gum necessary!).How do you a friend that she's not a bridesmaid or let your future mother-in-law know that her dress is too sexy? Discover how real brides handled these and other challenges.
1. "I don't know who should walk me down the aisle-my father, or my stepfather?"
Who would escort Gina Yager on her trip to the altar? Her father and stepdad both dreamed of that honor for the Las Vegas publicist's September wedding to Ian Yager. Though Gina's parents had divorced when she was two, her biological father, John, while often unable to support Gina financially, had always been a presence in her life.
Her solution? Both fathers would walk her down the aisle. "First, I took my father aside and told him, 'You may not like it, but I want you and Ken to split the walk,' " says Gina. " 'I'd like you to start it and Ken to give me away. Ken loves me, he's given me so much, and I want to reciprocate.' Next, I told my stepdad, 'I want to give you both this opportunity since you both are a part of my life. I'm his biological daughter and you developed me into who I am today.' I also asked him to answer the officiant's question, 'Who gives you away?' with 'Her mother, father and I do,' not just 'Her mother and I do.' "
2. "How do I tell my friends they won't be bridesmaids?"
Last among her friends to marry, Kristina Junger-Godfrey, a publicist in Newport Beach, California, was a bridesmaid in a dozen weddings by the time she wed Todd Godfrey in April. But Kristina's budget couldn't accommodate such a large wedding party; she also wanted a small affair. So what did she do?
Since she couldn't have all 12 of them, and she didn't want to have to choose among them, Kristina decided none of them would take part in the ceremony. "I gently explained that, instead of bridesmaids, I would be having my mother stand next to me, and my husband's mom next to him," says Kristina.
Two friends were still hurt, so in order to assuage their feelings Kristina made a concession: She invited their four-year-old daughters to serve as flower girls, which in turn gave her an excuse to invite the two mothers to the rehearsal dinner (including all the other would-be bridesmaids would have been far too costly). Fortunately, Kristina's friends were delighted-and ended up taking on some bridesmaid responsibilities anyway, like hosting a bridal shower and the bachelorette party.
3. "We want a child-free wedding, but several of our guests are resisting."
When Martha Gold*, a New York City public relations executive, marries her fiancé, George*, in May, no children under the age of 12 will be in attendance. "We both have huge families, and if we invited the little ones we'd be up to 450 guests," she says. "While we love children, we also want a sophisticated affair just for grown-ups, without a lot of young ones around."
Yet, when the couple informed some of their relatives of this decision, they were amazed at the reactions. "Some of my relatives assumed that only other people's kids wouldn't be invited!" says Martha. "My cousin said, 'Oh, everybody will understand you can only invite your closest cousins' kids.' It was embarrassing to have to repeat, 'We're not having kids there at all-and that includes yours,' but I was very firm. I added that having children would simply be too costly."
While some relatives understood, others were resentful. "I got a few cold stares," says Martha. "But I don't really care. I'd love to be able to invite everyone's kids but we simply can't, so they'll just have to accept that."
4. "I'd like to invite my former boyfriend to the reception, but my fiancé says 'no way.' "
Perhaps no other topic is as divisive among soon-to-be-brides and -grooms as the question of whether to invite old flames to the wedding. "My advice: Talk about it long before the wedding so you're not arguing on your way to the altar," says Joanne Kasmally* of Southern California, who learned this lesson the hard way. She and her husband, Jason*, were married in a California courthouse in October 2002 without family or friends present, then celebrated their nuptials with a reception in her parents' hometown of Miami, Florida, in December.
Two days before they were to fly to Miami, Joanne mentioned to her new husband that she'd invited her ex-boyfriend, with whom she'd remained good friends since their breakup five years earlier. "Jason got really upset," she recalls. "He declared that if my ex came, he would not. He said he suspected I still had feelings for this man. I was horrified."
So Joanne did the only thing she felt she could do. She phoned her ex and explained the situation honestly. She said, "I'm sorry to tell you this, but Jason and I have been married for only two months, and I have to ask that you don't come. If you do, my husband won't." In hindsight, Joanne admits she should have told Jason about inviting her ex months before the reception, like when the invitations went out in October, instead of waiting as long as she did.
5. "I'm embarrassed by the dress my fiancé's mother wants to wear. It's tacky!"
When Catherine Jones'* soon-to-be mother-in-law showed her the dress she planned to wear to her wedding last year, Catherine blanched. "The style was pretty scary," says the Santa Barbara, California, marketing executive. "I'd describe it as 'Vegas showgirl': tight, low-cut and covered with copper beads." So, Catherine went straight to her fiancé, Jeff*, to discuss how to resolve the situation. She described the dress, adding, "I don't want to tell your mom I don't like her outfit."
The couple's solution: They would inform Jeff's mother that he'd treat her to an expensive dress for the occasion, as a birthday gift. "I also offered to shop with her," says Catherine. "I steered her to a few gowns I liked and reminded her, 'Price is no object.' When she veered toward something neon, I said, 'You'll be standing next to my mom, who's wearing cream, and I would really appreciate it if your gown went with my wedding colors.' "
Fortunately, the groom's mother settled on a fitted, vanilla-colored silk V-neck top and matching long skirt that suited her dark hair and blue eyes, as well as the wedding scheme. "It was a simple, tasteful, flattering dress that was well worth the money we spent," says Catherine. "She'll probably never wear it again, but it was the best she's ever looked!"
*Names were changed in this article for privacy purposes.
More from Bridal Guide: